Instructional Design Central: Resources & Information for Instructional Design Professionals

What is Instructional Design?

What is Instructional Design, Educational Technology, and Curriculum Design?

What is Instructional Design?

What is instructional design? In short, instructional design is the systematic process by which instructional materials are designed, developed, and delivered. The terms instructional design, instructional technology, educational technology, curriculum design, and instructional systems design (ISD), are often used interchangeably. Below are a few instructional design definitions from various resources on instructional design, instructional technology, educational technology, curriculum design, and instructional systems design:

Definitions of Instructional Design?

"The philosophy, methodology, and approach used to deliver information. Some courseware aspects include question strategy, level of interaction, reinforcement, and branching complexity." Source:

"Instructional design, also known as instructional systems design, is the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use Instructional technology as a method for developing instruction. Instructional design models typically specify a method, that if followed will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitude to the recipient or acquirer of the instruction." Source:

"Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities." Source:

Definitions of Instructional Technology?

"The use of technology (computers, compact disc, interactive media, modem, satellite, teleconferencing, etc.) to support learning." Source:

"Instructional technology was born as a military response to the problems of a labor shortage during WWII in the United States. There was a definitive need to fill the factories with skilled labor. Instructional technology provided a methodology for training in a systematic and efficient manner."

"Instructional technology is the systemic and systematic application of strategies and techniques derived from behavioral, cognitive, and constructivist theories to the solution of instructional problems.

Definitions of Instructional Systems Design?

"A formal process for designing training, be it computer-based or traditional instructor-led training. The ISD process includes analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Also known as System Approach to Training (SAT)." Source:

"Systematic guidelines instructional designers follow in order to create a workshop, a course, a curriculum, an instructional program, or a training session” Source:

Definitions of Educational Technology?

"Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." The term educational technology is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and learning theory . While instructional technology is "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning," according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee, educational technology includes other systems used in the process of developing human capability. Educational technology includes, but is not limited to, software, hardware, as well as Internet applications, such as wiki's and blogs, and activities." Source:

"As an academic discipline, the study of educational technology prepares individuals by helping them acquire a deeper understanding and mastery of:

  • learning resources: messages, people, materials, devices, techniques and settings;
  • processes for analyzing and devising solutions to those problems through research, theory, design, production, evaluation, utilization;
  • the processes involved in organization and personnel management.


Definitions of Curriculum Design?

"Curriculum design is 'what' the learner will learn, while instructional design is 'how' they will learn it.

Generally speaking, curriculum relates to the content of an institution's programs and its course structure. Curriculum developers assemble content that meets specific standards, for example, to accomplish a specific degree. They make sure the dentist student takes that course entitled 'Administering Novocain' e.g. because that course is part of that program's core curriculum. Curriculum designers often work in academic institutions.

Instructional designers develop courses of instruction on specific topics, for example. While instructional designers may utilize subject matter experts to get the 'what,' they additionally develop the course delivery methods and evaluation methods. Instructional designers often work in industry developing training programs for employees and service sector entities."

"‘Curriculum design’ is generally understood as a high-level process defining the learning to take place within a specific programme of study, leading to specific unit(s) of credit or qualification. The curriculum design process leads to the production of core programme/module documents such as a course/module description, validation documents, prospectus entry, and course handbook." Source:

What is an Instructional Designer?

What is an instructional designer? In summary, an instructional designer is someone who creates and delivers educational training materials (e.g., eLearning courses, videos, manuals, handouts, etc.) for businesses, higher educational institutions, and other organizations. Some may use the terms instructional designer, educational technologist, curriculum designer, and instructional technologist interchangeably. Instructional designers and instructional technologists have similar job roles, functions, and career paths. They also have similar instructional design higher education degrees and formal training. Instructional designers and instructional technologists are in high demand as organizations are turning towards instructional designers to solve business performance problems and to provide media-rich eLearning solutions. Below are a few definitions from various resources on instructional designer and instructional technologist:

What is an Instructional Designer?

"An instructional designer is somebody who applies a systematic methodology based on instructional theory to create content for learning events."

"An instructional designer is an individual who develops the methodology and delivery systems for presenting course content."  

What is an Instructional Technologist?

"What does an instructional technologist do…

  • Evaluate new technologies to discover new and better ways to enhance instruction
  • Assist faculty in discovering methods of improving their instruction with and without technology
  • Conduct training sessions teaching faculty and staff how to use new technologies
  • Conduct research studies evaluating the use of technologies and their impact on student learning outcomes
  • Create training materials to accommodate the self-learners and provide resources for our “customers”
  • Manage the implementation of new technologies on-campus for the use of instruction". Source:

What is an Educational Technologist?

An educational technologists someone who is trained in the field of educational technology. Educational technologists try to analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate process and tools to enhance learning. Source:

What is a Curriculum Designer?

"A curriculum designer is a person who is involved in the process of creating and designing learning materials for various areas of education. At times curriculum  designers improve upon materials and curricula that are already being used in classrooms. Designers usually specialize in one area of education, such as elementary, intermediate, high school, college, adult, online learning, or even home school curriculum." Source: